Department Terminates Statewide Assessment Contract
Suspends Grade 3-8 Testing Due to Vendor’s Inability to Deliver Materials
NASHVILLE— Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today the department will terminate its statewide testing contract with Measurement Inc., effective immediately. While high school testing will continue as planned, the state will suspend grade 3-8 testing during the 2015-16 school year due to Measurement Inc.’s inability to deliver all testing materials.
After revising their shipping schedule for a third time this month, the state’s testing vendor, Measurement Inc., failed to meet its most recent deadline. As of this morning, all districts were still waiting on some grade 3-8 materials to arrive with a total of two million documents yet to be shipped. In February, the department was forced to move from the originally planned online assessment delivery to a paper-based format due to the failure of the vendor’s online platform.
“Measurement Inc.’s performance is deeply disappointing. We’ve exhausted every option in problem solving with this vendor to assist them in getting these tests delivered,” Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “Districts have exceeded their responsibility and obligation to wait for grade 3-8 materials, and we will not ask districts to continue waiting on a vendor that has repeatedly failed us.”
If districts have received materials for a complete grade or subject in grades 3-8 (i.e. fifth-grade math), they will have the option to administer that specific grade or subject level; however, the department will only be able to deliver limited student performance information for these particular grades and subjects. High school tests will be fully scored, and these results will be delivered later this fall.
“Challenges with this test vendor have not diverted us from our goals as a state. Tennessee has made historic and tremendous growth over the past several years. Higher standards and increased accountability have been a key part of this progress,” Commissioner McQueen said. “Our work toward an aligned assessment plays a critical role in ensuring that all students are continuing to meet our high expectations and are making progress on their path to postsecondary and the workforce.”
Flexibility that has already been provided for teacher evaluation through recent legislation will remain. If a teacher has TNReady data, in this case high school teachers, TNReady data will only be used if it helps the teacher. If a teacher does not have TNReady data, their evaluation will rely on data from prior years.
The department is currently working with the state’s Central Procurement Office to expedite the selection of a vendor for both the scoring of this year’s high school assessment and the development of next year’s test. The department has also been in close contact with the United States Department of Education to ensure that Tennessee is in compliance with federal requirements and will continue to work with them on this issue.
TNReady, the state’s new assessment in math and English language arts in grades 3-11, was designed to be administered in two parts. Part I was given in late February and early March, and Part II was scheduled to begin on April 25.
We remain frustrated with Measurement Inc. (MI) as they have continued to reset their shipping schedules for TCAP and TNReady Part II materials. We are taking action and implementing next steps as a result of this recent delay.
While all districts have received testing materials for high school courses, and districts that have chosen to administer the optional SAT-10 test have those materials as well, grade 3-8 TCAP and TNReady materials are still arriving in districts daily. The department believes it is critical that districts know when to expect their remaining 3-8 materials, but despite our repeated requests, MI has not provided these details. We share our districts’ frustration that we do not know specific delivery timelines due to MI’s failure to provide shipping projections and find this lack of information extremely unsatisfactory.
Under their new shipping schedule, MI has informed us that districts should receive all remaining grade 3-8 testing materials by April 27. Earlier this week, we informed districts about this update from MI and advised them to schedule testing through May 10 based on this information, particularly if they were planning on testing the week of April 25. We also told them to be as flexible as they needed with scheduling, including scheduling over more than five days and skipping a day if needed. We will not ask districts to reschedule again beyond what has been communicated to date, and we will not extend the testing window beyond May 10.
Our priority is for students to end the school year on a strong note, and we do not want state testing to interfere with our students’ end-of-year experience. We do not want district or school officials, educators, students, or parents to have any further unnecessary anxiety or uncertainty, and we again apologize for the extra work and challenges this transition has brought thus far. We are having conversations with district leaders, local stakeholders and advocates, federal officials at the U.S. Department of Education, the governor’s office, and the Tennessee state board of education to discuss our plans for addressing potential cases where districts do not receive all of their materials under the current timeline, and we will be sharing those decisions as soon as they are finalized. We are also working with those same groups to determine what additional flexibility we would propose for district accountability.
We continue to work with our districts individually to address any concerns they may have, and our districts should continue to move forward based on everything we know now. We look forward to sharing more in the coming days, including more details about both this year’s assessment and ongoing conversations with Measurement Inc.
Again, we share the frustration felt by district and classroom educators and sincerely apologize for the impact that MI’s failure to deliver as promised has had on students, parents, teachers, and districts all across Tennessee.
The State Board of Education launched the science standards review website to collect public feedback on Tennessee’s newly revised grade K-12 science standards. Please click here to provide feedback as feedback opportunities are available for all stakeholders. This is the final option to provide feedback. Click here to provide feedback.
ACS School Board Meeting – March 15, 2016
Superintendent Mason presented the results of the ACS Start Times Interest Survey at the March 15, 2016, ACS Board Meeting. Based on the results, the consensus of the board members (4 of 5) was that no further action on this topic is needed at this time. Click here to view the presentation.
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